I don't own Avatar the Last Airbender or Pokémon. Some of the dialogue and events are lifted directly from the show. Warning for discussion of canon genocide.
Chapter Summary: In which Zuko is obsessed with Pokémon. (But keep it quiet, he's 'searching for the Avatar'.)
(The Boy in the Iceberg & The Avatar Returns)
I blinked, staring as a bright white beam of light lit up the sky. Whatever made that light has to be powerful. Pokémon, Spirit or something else? Growlithe snarls uneasily, leaning against my leg. I reach down to scratch behind his ear. "What do you think?" I murmur, "We should investigate that, right?"
Growlithe gives a huffing sigh and barks his agreement. "Helmsman!" I call, pitching my voice to carry, "head a course for the light!"
Turning I walk over to where Uncle Iroh is sitting at small table with a steaming cup of tea on one side and a game in front of him. "Uncle," I inquire, "do you have any idea what that could be? If we are to make preparations for encountering the source, what caused it and what it means would be very useful information."
Uncle frowns slightly at the light before returning his attention to his tiles. "It resembles some Pokémon moves like Hyper Beam. But no, I don't believe I know the cause. Be sure to check your footing before you step, ice can look unbreakable but shatter as soon as you walk on it."
I frown in consideration before nodding, "I'll order a few soldiers to be ready to escort me tomorrow and make sure they pick proper equipment and double check their cold gear."
I pet Growlithe absently, "I'll grab dinner in the mess then I will alert the night watch to wake me if any strange events happen and try to get a few hours' sleep." I frown at the sun, "The midnight sun is a strange thing but better than the alternative."
Iroh smiles and yawns, "That sounds like a wise plan. I will go to bed soon too, a man needs his rest."
I consciously relaxed my muscles as much as possible into the ready stance that begins this drill. I''ve done this drill six times already today and it is getting frustrating but tensing up will only hinder me. I glance over at where Growlithe sit on the deck next to Uncle's chair watching. If I had him with me I could beat them easily. I shake the wistful thought away and breathe deeply. But that's not the point. The point is to learning Firebending. I know I'm not a great bender, not like my sister or my father or even Uncle and I probably never will be but I can get better. Uncle is teaching me and he's the Dragon of the West, even if he is incredibly frustrating sometimes he does know what he's doing. Listen and learn and don't get angry at your soldiers. It's not their fault you're a bad bender and their training with you is very useful.
Giving a slight nod I ready myself for Uncle's queue.
"Again." before Uncles voice had fully faded I was moving.
Arms spread, fire showers my opponents. They block.
Fire-blast, aimed high, duck under. Fire-blast aimed at feet, jump away. Twist mid-air, fire one fire-blast from hand, fire one fire-blast fire from foot. Opponents jumped away. Both blasts dodged. Touch down on deck, fists raised…
"No!" I lower my arms and look towards Uncle. He has stood up. "Power in firebending comes from the breath" Iroh uses his hands to emphasize the motion of breathing "not the muscles" He stretchsd his arms out in the motion for a fire blast. "The breath becomes energy in the body. The energy extends past your limbs and becomes: fire!"
Uncle fires a demonstration blast that dissipates before it can burn anything. "You are getting closer Nephew but you need more focus on your breath."
I roll my shoulders and breathe through the aggravation. "I will drill this sequence once more time today. After that start teaching me the next set. There is mastering the basics and then there is stagnation."
Uncle considers me as he sits back down, "Yes, you are getting better. Perhaps learning the more advanced forms will help you find fuller mastery of the basics. But for now…again!"
I startle as the white-yellow burst of a flare interrupts my contemplations of the iceberg scattered waters and demands my attention. Moving over to the telescope attached to the railing near me I track the flare to the shipwreck it had originated from.
"That's interesting." I muse watching as someone makes frankly impossibly jumps down the side of the ship from the command tower to the ground while holding another person wearing Water Tribe blue. Those jumps should kill a person even if you could manage the landing without slipping. And there is no Pokémon visible. Airbending is the most likely possibility. "Oh" I breathe as the jumper put down the Water Tribe. And that's yellow and orange; the colours of the Air Nomads. Not wise colours to be wearing but very distinctive.
"You," I point sharply at the soldier across the deck from me, "wake my Uncle and give him a message. Tell him, I might have just found an airbender and" I double-check the direction that the pair is running in, "that they seem to be heading for a small Water Tribe village. Understood?"
The soldier nods, "Yes, Sir."
Frowning I turn back to the telescope as I track their progress across the ice. It could be something else, but I've read the records about Airbenders and that matches the sort of thing Airbending is supposed to be capable of doing.
The Fire Sages say the Avatar is the last Airbender, and it would make sense why there have been no reports of the Avatar surfacing in the last hundred years if they were some old cowardly airbender hiding from the war…the Fire Nation killed all the Air Nomads. That is what everyone and the history books say. The Air Nomads are gone, the world can't be that wrong about such a big thing, but airbending and airbenders?
How would one kill a whole nation of people who can fly and travel from place to place on the wind? No, formal airbending training, their history and their culture might be gone but a young untrained airbender being born to those who bare air's blood somewhere in their vein and discovering by accident a little of what they can do?
That I can see. Benders can be born to no-benders after all and non-benders to benders. The colonies have proven that the children of people who carry both the blood of fire and of earth can be of either fire or earth, even if it was only one of their grandparents and neither of their parents were a bender.
Although why they would be wearing the colour of the Air Nomads is a good question. You might get away with it in the Earth Kingdom, or even the Fire Nation but in the Water Tribes with their distinct preferences for blues, purples and whites?
I sigh. I know what caused the flare to be fired but it is a good reason to ask questions around the village and see how they answer. And who knows why those two were in that ship in the first place, best to confirm that there are not any Fire Nation stranded here somehow. It is a good excuse to poke around and explain our presence. If they react okay I can ask about that light yesterday.
I look back up at the flare soaring lazily through the air. Some aerial coverage would be good.
Eyes closed I breathe, 'Fletchinder, please head my call, I request your presence.' Focusing on the Chi-bond that stretches between me and Fletchinder I sense my request pulse along it and then the returning flare of warmth and acceptance and alertness from my Pokémon. Grasping the bond I pull on it, dragging the feeling of heat-feathers-fierceness-freedom out of the Pokémon World and into this world as I feed it with my own chi. It comes to me easily, fire-and-wind-defend-my-territory my Pokémon's chi blending back easily to my own where they meet with the swift acceptance of long practice and deep shared love/affection/trust/companionship.
Fletchinder slides into the world, his form a shimmer of white light surrounded by swirling flames of gold, red and orange. The flame whirls across his body and died as Fletchinder's shape settles. The bird Pokémon lands on the rail ruffling his feathers and looks at me.
I smile, "Thanks. I know you're not too fond of the cold. There seems to be an airbender in the Water Tribe village over there. Could you keep an eye on them without being noticed until I am ready to land?"
Fletchinder chirps his agree and dives off the railing. He plunges towards the deck below before his golden swings snap open and he climbs into the sky with steady strokes.
"Helmsman," I call, "make sure you don't damage the iceshelf the village is on when you pull in. This is meant to be a friendly visit; partly destroying the village by arriving wouldn't make the best first impression."
Heading inside the navigation room I gesture at a nearby soldier, "Tell my escort to meet me by the prow of the ship before we stop. And tell them we are visiting a village not trekking over icebergs."
I continue forward as the soldier acknowledges my orders with a slight bow, "Will do, sir."
Striding onto the main deck with Luxio at my heels I head towards the rail near the prow of the ship as Fletchinder descends. I can see more of the village now and it is small. Surrounded by a medium-small wall the only permanent structure seemed to be a reasonable sized igloo while the rest of the village looked to be made up of eight tents.
Turning I call for my escort, three firebending soldiers -Tadaaki, Kouki, Akio- and three non-bending soldiers -Hyousuke, Katsu, Isuma- to meet me near the prow. Leaning against the railing I run a hand across Fletchinder's smooth hot feathers. "Thanks Fletchinder. The airbender is still near the village?"
Fletchinder croons his agreement leaning into my hand. "Good. Keep a look out for me okay? I don't want to suddenly end up in an ambush without warning." I give the bird Pokémon a final stroke before stepping back as Fletchninder launches himself from the rail and raises on powerful wing strokes into the sky.
I watch Fletchinder for another couple of seconds before I turn to face the escort who have assembled before me. I glance over them, assessing and checking they are properly presented and have all of their equipment. They are satisfactory prepared so I give a sharp nod.
"I know you've heard most of this speech before but remember we are not here to start a fight or frighten these people but they are not likely to welcome us. Defend yourself if attacked but don't escalate things. The village looks quite small so even if we are attacked I doubt they will have enough trained fighters to cause problems. Your lives and your comrades' lives come first but if all possible don't kill or main anyone, try to keep the civilians and children out of it and when you can minimalize the property damage." I frown, thinking about our current environment then add, "Actually be extract careful of the property damage, I doubt they made their village on thin ice but we don't want to accidently melt or crack it. I will not be pleased if we end up swimming because someone forgets we are on an iceshelf not land. That's all, understood?"
"Yes, sir." they acknowledge.
"No questions?" I querie.
There was a beat of silence as the six waited for anyone to speak up before they answer, "No, sir."
I pet Luxio, "Your Pokémon are alert and ready if needed?"
"Yes, sir." they respond firmly. I've retrained and drilled my men extensively on working with their Pokémon so I trust that their Pokémon truly are ready to be Called into the South Pole should their aid be necessary.
The ship ground loudly against the ice, the bow ploughing slightly into the shoreline before stopping but it didn't seem to have damaged the ice further in. Checking that there is nothing in the path of the ramp I signal for the prow ramp to be dropped. We are a couple of minutes walk from the small village but that was likely a good thing. Gives them more time to set up an ambush but it also lets them calm down. Plus I don't trust the stability of the ice if I'd tried to force the ship right up to the village, not to mention destroying their wall would be rude.
"Stop." A man yells as we approach the village. One defender. Either the others are hiding to conceal their numbers or to prepare an ambush or they only have one person. He sounds young; though the face-paint makes determining age hard he looks pretty young too. There is a pause from the man-boy?- as we halt before he continues, "Why are you here? This is Southern Water Tribe lands, the Fire Nation isn't welcome here!"
I take three steps forward, Luxio following me while my guards stay put. "We are investigating the flare that went up earlier today." I call back, "Who is in charge of this village? I would like to talk to them."
"I am." comes the response. Then a question laden heavily with suspicion, "You're really just here about the flare?"
I nod, unsure if the young warrior on the wall can see the movement. "We are a research vessel not a warship. We investigate strange occurrence and try to determine what caused them. We were in the area looking for Polar dwelling Pokémon. We likely would have tried to find a village that would talk to us afterwards about the Pokémon common to the area and what they know about the native Spirits but the flare went up and as the closest ship it is our responsibility to investigate."
"If you're just a research ship then why are you all wearing armour?" the warrior asks in a tone of aggressive suspicion.
A raised an eyebrow is unlikely to be seen but my tone is completely dry in response, "We are Fire Nation. After the first couple of times people heard 'research vessel' and mistook it to mean 'undefended' and 'easy target' I decided it was worth bringing guards with me to keep from having to repel invades off the ship."
I fold my arms, flicking a glance down for a moment as Luxio's golden tail-star wiggles, ears twitches in alert, "So, the flare?"
I blink once as a blur of orange and black zooms past me before the Water Tribe warrior can respond, leaving a ditch in the snow. Pointed I did not look back to see if my men have seen the same thing. Was that a boy, a boy in Air Nomad clothing, riding a penguin? Checking that the warrior on the wall hasn't moved, I turn, arms unfolding and follow the trail with my eyes just in time to see the penguin toss its rider off.
Orange over shirt, check. Yellow undershirt, check. Orange belt, check. Yellow pants, check. Orange boots, check. Long wooden staff, possibly an Airbending staff, check. Shaved head, check. Blue arrow tattoo that signals airbending mastery, check. Small size, young body shape, smiling at the penguin, probably a child or younger teen. I give the boy a slightly baffled look. Either this is some suicidal idiot who has decided it is a good idea to pretend to be an airbender or this suicidal idiot is an airbender who thinks it is a good idea to all but shout that to the world in front of Fire Nation soldiers.
Well, even if he is an Airbender at least he probably isn't the Avatar. The Fire Sages might say that the Avatar is the Last Airbender, and I believe that it is still the same Avatar, but even Avatars aren't immune to aging and he'd be an old man not some preteen boy. If some airbenders have managed to survive, well my orders say nothing about Airbenders, only Avatars.
"You!" the warrior on the wall yells sounding furious as he points his club at the boy, "Come to greet your masters? I knew were a spy!"
The boy turns wide eyes on the warrior opening his mouth, probably to protest but I cut in, "If he's a spy, he's not mine." stomping my foot I add curtly, "It's cold and I don't want to waste my time standing around in the snow so do you know what triggered that flare or not?"
The warrior starts to splutter something but the boy turns to face me looking sheepish and asks guiltily, "Is that why you're here? I'm sorry, that was my fault."
"Oh?" I arch a brow and gesture for the boy to continue.
The boy smiles, rubbing the back of his head awkwardly, "Yeah, I was curious and I convinced Katara to explore the shipwreck with me but it was bobby trapped, and, um, so we accidently set off the flare." the boy looks concerned, "That's not a problem is it?"
"No." I cut him off with a sharp wave before he can continue, "I will have to check the wreck just to make sure but other than that it is fine." The boy's story matches what I'd seen with my telescope. "But" I glare, "don't do it again."
The boy gives an embarrassed smiles, "Yeah, I won't."
I nod and start to turn away before pausing, "It would be wise not to wear those so openly. I might not care about someone wearing Air Nomad clothing or even bending the wind but my father would fry you. At the very least, don't wear them around the Fire Nation."
The boy gives a puzzled frown, "Why not?"
I stop and stare. Is this a joke? "Where have you the last hundred years?"
"Err," that's a look of supreme awkwardness, "apparently trapped in an iceberg?"
I stare, then pinch the bridge of my nose and turn to look at the warrior, "Is he serious?"
The warrior nods, grumpily adding, "My crazy sister broke him out of an iceberg yesterday."
I give an imploring glance to the sun, "And no-one's told him what happened?"
"Hey," the boy, the Air Nomad protests, "I only got free yesterday and I know there is a war with the Fire Nation."
"I should not be the one to tell you this." I sigh, "But seeing as you one else has, well you need to know. One hundred years ago Fire Lord Sozin's forces attacked the Four Air Temples and massacred the Air Nomads in an attempt to kill the Avatar and break the cycle of reincarnation. No-one knows what happened to the Avatar but as far as the world knows the attack succeeded in wiping out the Air Nomads. Or there are no-reports of surviving Airbenders and the Temples are empty. If any of them did survive they've hidden themselves very well and I doubt that Airbender or not you'd find them."
"Wh-at?" the boy asks eyes wide in shock, "that's not possible."
I close my eyes for just a second and remember the bones that had been scattered throughout the Air Temples. "I'm sorry, I'm Fire Nation, I shouldn't be the one to tell you this but it just isn't safe for you not to know. You-" Luxio leans against my leg, the weight of my Pokémon a grounding comfort. I shake my head. "I'm sorry."
The boy shook his head, "No. That can't have happened. The Fire Nation wouldn't. And even if they tried the Air Temples are only accessible by flying bison." He turns an imploring gaze to the Water Tribe warrior. "Sokka, tell him he's wrong. The airbenders can't be gone."
"Ar-Aang." the warrior, Sokka the boy called him, appears extremely uncomfortable, "it's true. The Fire Nation wiped out the Air Nomads and started the war."
"But why?" the airbender asks, wide eyed and horrified.
That at least I can tell him. "To kill the Avatar. Firelord Sozin knew that if Avatar Roku who had been his friend attacked him and threatened to kill him over the colonies then he'd have to act before the next Avatar was trained enough to stop him. He killed the Air Nomads because that is where the Avatar would have reincarnated after Avatar Roku's death. Also, the Air Nomads had the smallest population; it was believed that if one of the elements no-longer existed then the Avatar Cycle would be broken. The Air Nomads are the smallest Nation; they were the most logical target to disrupt the Avatar cycle."
The boy stumbles back looking sick, "The Avatar?" he whispers, "They killed the Air Nomads to get me?"
Concerned I frown at the aribender, "They came for the Avatar, kid, and there is nothing you could have done by being there but get killed with them. Don't blame yourself. Blame, the Fire Nation, blame the Avatar who spent the last hundred years cowardly hiding from the war, blame the other nations who stood by and did nothing as the Fire Lord's Armies marched through their territory but don't blame yourself."
"No, no," he shakes his head, "You don't understand. They came for me. For the Avatar. I ran away and they came for me because I'm the Avatar!"
The words ring across the frozen landscape as the boy trembles in front of me. I realize I had stepped back. Had stepped away from him, "You're the Avatar?" I shake my head denying the claim, "But you're just a child."
He can't be the Avatar. He looks 12, maybe fourteen if you push it. The Avatar is never told until they are sixteen. The Avatar is an old man. The kid's in shock, he's just had his world up ended and he's blaming himself for it. I nod, agreeing with my assessment. Poor kid, even when I was banished I still knew my home is there even if I can never go back.
"I'm sorry, the Air Nomads are gone." Hesitate. Why am I the one telling him this? "This must be hard to take in and I understand if you don't believe me until you see it with your own eyes." Another pause. I'm really not good at this whole comforting people thing. "But you're a kid. It's not your fault. Even if you did run away. There is nothing your presence would have changed. You're not the Avatar; the Avatar is told when they turn sixteen. Perhaps someone like the Avatar could have stopped one of the attacks but you're a kid, even if you're a bender, even a fantastic bender, you couldn't have saved anyone."
The kid was shaking his head again, "I'm not lying. I am the Avatar. They told me early and they wanted to move me to train me and that's why I can away." Denial radiated from every movement. "The Air Nomads can't be dead. Maybe no-one's seen them in a hundred years but we're peaceful. If there has been a war maybe they've just been staying in the Temples."
I open my mouth to speak but ended up shaking my head instead. I've done what I can. He just needs time to process.
"You," I point at the warrior, "Sokka, right?" the Water Tribe nods but I wasn't interested in being interrupted. "I'm going to go and investigate the shipwreck and then return to my ship."
I nod sharply at Sokka, turn and walk off in the direction of the ship wreck. Luxio prowling across the snow before me and my escort following behind.
The trek through the snow had given me some time to think. The boy is-I really need to find out his name- if he's authentic, a fully trained airbender. Or he should be, if the records are right, Blue Arrow Tattoos are only given to Airbending Masters. Which means he should know the bending-forms and could teach other people.
Well theoretically, if he could find some other airbenders. Not everyone who carries Airbender Heritage could have died. Their might not be people with pure air heritage and maybe there are no airbenders currently but the potential is for the future is likely still there. I should try and record some of his forms.
I pause staring at the six legged pile of white fur. That must be an Air Bison. It really is massive.
"Tadaaki, Hyousuke, with me. Everyone else, back to the ship." silently my soldiers acknowledge the order, four of them splitting off to head back to the ship and the other two following me as I head for the Air Bison.
"What is going on?" I ask the small crowd.
The Water Tribe children fall quiet, staring at me with large frightened eyes while an elderly woman in purple looks at me with badly concealed fear. The warrior, Sokka, glares at me but I am reasonably sure most of it is bravo. The girl next to him gives me a look of pure loathing. Sokka's sister or girlfriend, I reason, looking at his slightly protective stance in front of her. Sister, I decide, remembering that Sokka said his crazy sister broke the airbender out of the iceberg and taking in the way she's holding onto the kid.
The airbender is either oblivious to the tension or ignoring it because he turns to me with a smile on his face. "Oh. I'm going to fly Appa to the Southern Air Temple." He still hopes there are airbenders alive. I doubt anything I say could change his mind.
"Your Bison was in the Iceberg with you?" The airbender nods patting the bison as the grin stretches wider across his face. I decide continue before he could start talking again. "Are you sure, Appa was it," the boy nods, "will be alright to make the flight?"
The boy look a little concerned and I notice the doubtful look Sokka is giving the bison. "I'd offer to let you ride on my ship to the Southern Air Temple, I've been there before, but I was in this particular area of the South Pole because yesterday I saw a beam of light shine from the ground to strike the sky."
Sokka snorts, "Figures. That was my sister."
Interesting. "You sister?" I inquire.
He looks alarmed -Bet me just realized who he'd said that to.- but answers me with a glare. "When she broke Aang out of the ice it hit us with a gale and sent up a beam of light into the sky."
"Ah" I nod my thanks then look back at the Airbender, Aang apparently, "That was my only urgent activity here. If you would like, my ship can transport you and Appa to the Southern Air Temple. The bison should fit on the main deck and you could either sleep there with him or in a free room."
Aang smiled cheerfully, "Thanks that would be really nice of you. Appa hasn't flown since we got out of the ice and I'm a little worried about him." He's not afraid of me at all, is he?
"You're going with him?" Sokka exclaims.
"He's Fire Nation! What if he hurts you?" the girl glares at me before turning a worried look on Aang.
I give the girl a narrow eyed look and besides me my Pokémon give an almost inaudible grow but I'd encountered that sort of suspicion often in my travels so I nudge him subtly with my shin. Causing a scene would do us no good and I also knew that the Southern Water Tribes had been viciously raided under Grandfather's orders. It would be worrying if they were friendly, the fear and hostility is expected.
"I have no intention of hurting either of them." I flick a glance at the airbender, "Although in future you probably should be more wary of the Fire Nation." I pause. "Aang," The airbender gives me a slightly more attentive look. Seems I was right about that being his name. "I've never seen Sky Bison before or an Air Nomad and the fact I'd be incredibly disappointed if you fell out of the sky from exhaustion and drowned before I learnt anything from you does play a large factor in why I'm willing to transport you. I can come back to the South Pole at any time to look for Pokémon, I will probably never get another chance to ask an airbender questions about Temple life."
Sokka looks like he is carefully considering my words, which is slightly surprising. The girl looks a mix of disgusted, justified and confused. Probably just confirmed some bias about no-one Fire Nation doing anything good without alternate motives but confused her about why a Fire Nation person would want to learn about Air Temple life. Aang just looks happy. I'm beginning to think that's his default state.
"I plan on leaving in twenty minutes, does that give you enough time to say your goodbyes and pack anything you need?"
The airbender nods enthusiastically, "Yeah, my things are already packed on Appa." He pats the sky bison.
I turn away then pause, "Is Appa able to get onto the main deck himself or will he need help?"
"I think he can do it himself."
I nod and walk away, ignoring the argument that starts as soon as I appear to be out of earshot. My hearing seems unusually good for a human.
I look up at the strange whoosh of air. It seems that the Sky Bison can fly after all. Pushing Growlithe off my lap I stand to go greet them as the bison lands in the middle of the deck. Growlithe shakes out his fur and follows me. There are three figures on the Bison instead of one; it seems like the airbender is not coming alone.
"Welcome aboard." I look at Sokka and his sister as they slide off Appa after Aang. "Are you two coming as well?"
"Yes." the girl glares at me, daring me to protest it. I bristle a little because this is my ship but Growlithe nudges my leg and I let it go; irritating people are a fact of life. Perhaps I can ask them about their Pokémon?
"Okay." she blinks, taken aback by my lack of protest. "Do you have everything you need?"
"Yeah," Sokka nods, patting Appa's side, "all packed."
Aang grins at me, "Thanks for letting them come with me."
I shrug slightly, "It's fine." Turning towards the control tower I raise my voice, "Helmsman, set a course for the Southern Air Temple!" Turning back to my guests as the prow of the ship rises up, "Since none of us have actually been introduce but, you're Aang," I nod at the Airbender, "that's Appa," I gesture at the Sky Bison, "and you are Sokka," I point at the Water Tribe warrior, "right?" They nod, Aang enthusiastically, Sokka cautiously, "Okay. My name is Zuko."
"And she is?" I gesture towards the girl.
"My sister Katara." Sokka answers.
"Good to know." I commit the name to memory. Names are important among the nobility and it is a good habit to have. "Do you plan on sleeping on the deck with Appa or do I need to find you room to sleep in the ship somewhere?" They look uncertain so I tell them to think about it before moving onto the next topic.
"I have a few rules for guests while you are on board, which are mostly for your safety and the safety of the crew." Katara is frowning at me while Sokka looks slightly suspicious but Aang seems like he wants to exploring my ship already, "The engine room and armoury are out of bounds, you are not allowed in either of those and my crew will throw you out if they find you in either. Personal quarters are also out of bounds for privacy reasons. Besides from that, please try and keep out of my crew's way while they run the ship and listen to them if they tell you something. If you encounter something you don't recognize, please ask one of the crew instead of poking it, I would rather not ram into a glarier shelf because you managed to accidently activate the ramp lowering mechanism or something."
My lips twitch; some people would say I don't have a sense of humour, I do, it is just rather understated.
"If you are going to call your Pokémon, please do so on the main deck and stay with your Pokémon. The crew knows each other's Pokémon fairly well so a foreign Pokémon is likely to be viewed with suspicion if they turns up unexpectedly. I don't want any misunderstandings that might result in people attacking each other." I look them over, "Is all of that clear?"
I got three nods with varying levels of enthusiasm and suspicion. "Do you have any questions?" Aang looks like he has a whole bunch but Sokka beats him to it.
"Why do you call it your ship and your crew?" Somewhat observant. "And how come you were the one who came to talk to our village. I didn't think teenagers were normally in charge of ships in the Fire Nation."
An intelligent question. I cross my arms loosely, resting my weight back mostly one leg, "You are right. Teenagers are not normally in command of their own vessels but this ship is mine." I pause for a moment before continuing: the information isn't too important even if it is something I dislike talking about and I am aware that I am not a good liar so they'd figure something was up quickly. "I am currently banished from the Fire Nation on pain of death unless I complete a fool's quest or the Fire Lord decides to revoke my banishment which is even more unlikely then completely my assigned challenge."
The three of them look surprised. I give a slightly bitter smile, "Killing me would have caused an outrage, even if it was the Fire Lord who did it, so banishing me for showing 'weakness' was a convenient alternative. But banished or not I'm still a high ranking noble on a mission directly from the Fire Lord so I get a small ship and crew." I shrug, although I don't think I manage to completely hide my anger. Not that I was trying very hard to, being visible angry over problems is generally acceptable, Firebending, even harmlessly, because you are upset makes people extremely uneasy. "Things happen. I've made the best of it."
None of them look like they know what to say to that. Abruptly and unsubtly I change the subject. I don't think I'd want to hear whatever they'd have to say and losing my temper at guests on my ship would not be very polite. "We should arrive at the Southern Air Temple sometime the day after tomorrow. If it is dark when we arrive I would recommend waiting until full light to set off. I doubt the wisdom of ascending the mountains in the dark flying bison or no."
Aang nods in agreement.
"Would you like a small tour of the ship? I can also introduce you to some of the crew."
"Sounds like a good idea." Sokka nods.
"Cool, I've never been on a metal ship before!" Aang exclaims.
"Fine." Katara nods, watching me warily.
I turn to head inside then glance back at the sky bison, "Will Appa stay here on his own if the crew leaves him be?"
"Yeah, he will." Aang smiles at his bison and pats him again. "Won't you boy?" the bison sighs and settles more comfortably on the deck.
"And that's Uncle's table. He spends a lot of his time here so avoid it unless you don't mind being roped into playing and drinking lots of tea." I glance back at my guests who are eying everything with curiosity. "Have you decided if you want to sleep in the ship or on the deck? I've heard some people find the insides of Fire Nation ships disconcerting."
Aang rubs the back of his neck, "Umm, well it's a really nice ship but…I'd rather sleep on the deck with Appa."
"Same." Sokka and Katara nod.
I just nod and made note to tell the night watch. "Will you be eating with the crew or from your own supplies? Foreigners tend to find Fire Nation food too hot and spicy." I clarify.
"We'll eat with the crew." Sokka put in rapidly, wariness forgotten at the mention of food.
Aang looks similarly happy, "It's been ages since I last had Fire Nation food."
"Did the Air Nomads really travel that much?" I ask, curious, as I lead them towards the kitchen.
"Yeah." Aang beams, "I visited my friend Kuzon all the time."
"You were friends with someone from the Fire Nation." Sokka splutters.
"Yeah, of course." Aang gives his friend a bewildered look.
I intercede in the conversation before it could continue down that line. "Did you have any friends in the other nations?"
Aang beams again. "Yeah, in the Earth Kingdom I was friends with Bumi. He was a mad genius. Do you know we rode the mail chutes of Omashu once?"
I listen to him prattle on with half an ear. It was interesting to hear what the world was like a hundred years ago from the view of an Airbending kid but I was trying to place were I'd heard that name before. Isn't Bumi the name of Omashu's mad King? Probably just coincidence, but this is my life so maybe not. He's probably old enough for it to be the same person.
I had this idea for a Pokémon Avatar Last Airbender crossover a few years ago. This chapter has been sitting on my computer for about a year now. Last week I started fixing it up better and getting it ready to post. I figure even if I don't know much of how the story will go, well some people might like this chapter and I may be motivated to write more if I've already posted the fic. I've done a lot of re-editing since I first post this. Sorry about that, hopefully now I've gotten past the 'to post or not to post' stage I will do more complete editing before posting chapters.
If you have any suggestions for which Pokémon people should have, feel free to tell me.